Sunday 29 August 2010


Official TDC press blurb:

"Some of Margate’s many historic buildings and sites will be throwing
open their doors next month (September), as part of Heritage Open

A total of 12 different venues will be taking part in the initiative,
which runs from Thursday 9 September until Sunday 12 September. It’s
been organised under the banner of Margate Arts, Creativity, Heritage
(MACH), an innovative partnership between English Heritage, the Arts
Council and Thanet District Council.

The four days will include free tours, talks, live music and arts
events, all inspired by Margate’s history and its culture-led
regeneration. Dreamland will be offering a tour of the world famous
former amusement park site and a presentation about its future as the
world’s first heritage amusement park. Margate Museum, the town’s
former police station, will be hosting a performance with a
difference, in the former prison cells, which date from 1858. A live
band will play music from the 60s to commemorate the detention of 51
Mods there following the Whitsun Riots of 1964.

Guided tours will also be available of The Reading Rooms, a luxury
boutique bed and breakfast; St. John’s Parish Church; the Theatre
Royal, which is home to the country’s second oldest working stage; and
the Tom Thumb Theatre, one of the world’s smallest working theatres.

Visitors to the town can also take a look inside the Tudor House;
explore the archives of Margate Baptist Church; take a walking tour of
three squares (Cecil, Hawley and Addington); and can explore Margate
Old Town. Turner Contemporary will be putting on an exhibition in a
pop-up shop, as part of Generate, a project they are working on with
Thanet College, while the Harbour Arm will be showcasing an exhibition
and auction of postcard-sized art, with all proceeds going to the

MACH Project Manager, Sophie Jeffrey, said: “Margate has a special
place in the history books and in many people’s hearts, so we hope
this event, which increases access to historic sites and helps bring
them to life through the arts, will be a big hit. It’s also a great
way to open up a conversation with local people about how we can
secure the long-term future of Margate’s cultural assets.”

The event is being run with help from a group of volunteers, including
the Margate Civic Society. It is hoped that this pilot may lead to
more regular opening of Margate’s historic buildings and, for those in
public ownership, generate sustainable plans for their long-term

For more information on the venues taking part and what they will be
offering, visit"

In the media: The Ambrette in The Independent

Margate's Michelin rated The Ambrette is reviewed in The Independent.

The Ambrette 44 King Street, Margate, Kent

The Ambrette's take on modern Mumbai dining is just the latest sign of life returning to Margate's seaside strip

Reviewed by Richard Johnson

Margate is changing. And these days – if you plan your route carefully – you can avoid anything that looks boarded up or burnt out. You can drive past the Turner Contemporary arts centre, and the smart bars overlooking the Margate sands, and park up in the old town for a bite to eat. It's not a long drive, admittedly. But you get the point. Just remember to park somewhere well-lit – change doesn't happen overnight...

The Ambrette is symbolic of the new Margate – it used to be known as The Indian Princess, but chef Dev Biswal decided that the name sounded too old-fashioned. So he changed it. The food is still resolutely Indian – Biswal still comes from Mumbai – but it doesn't serve curry. And there's pork on the menu. Biswal wants the Ambrette to be known as a modern Indian restaurant with a difference.

It sits on the premises of the old George Hotel, which dates back to the mid-18th century. But, like the rest of Margate, it still needs loving. And a coat of masonry paint. There are only two designated parking spaces and – according to a large sign on the wall – the council is pursing an aggressive clamping policy. I'm glad of a table by the window. Not for the view, you understand – more so I can keep an eye on the car.

My six-year-old daughter doesn't like anything spicy. And, in her short life, Indian has always been about the spicy. So I want the Ambrette's "Gourmet Set Lunch" (three courses for £19.95) to put an end to all that – to put to rest her delusion that Indian food is all about fat and gravy. I got her to Margate by promising her she can have her own choice of dessert. But when the food starts to arrive, there's no need for any more talk of bribes.

Biswal's signature dish of freshwater Nile perch is off the menu. So instead we try the claresse. We are happy to be told that claresse is a freshwater fish from the European catfish family. We are even more happy when we taste it. It is pan-grilled, but soft and sweet inside its crust of sesame seeds, black pepper and coriander seeds. We don't give the perch a second thought.

The brochettes of lamb have been marinated in pineapple, and roasted – over charcoal. They arrive at the table, as soft as paté, on a mildly spiced bed of sweet potatoes. It's the right time for the waiter to bring my daughter's lassi to the table. With a straw – one of those with a joint towards the top. "You can drink round corners," he says. "Cool," she says. And promptly forgets all about the mildly spiced bed of sweet potatoes.

I've always wanted to rid the world of reheated bread rolls, pre-grated Parmesan, and overfilled wine glasses. The list used to include inter-course sorbets, but when my daughter and I taste the Ambrette's granita with space dust, well, I change my mind. As the waiter arrives with tiny tasters of mushroom soup (with a dab of ginger) and vegetable spring rolls with a smear of chutney, we're having a ball.

The sea-bream kedgeree is the best dish of the day. It is creamy, like a good risotto, and sweet with coconut. My daughter has discovered that her naan bread, still shiny with ghee, is big enough for her hand, and she turns it into a glove puppet while we wait for a dense, wet carrot cake – sweet with condensed milk. It is enough to make my daughter put down her naan bread.

The pastry around my chocolate samosas is, all at once, crisp and soft, giving way to a rich, dark chocolate ganache inside. The dish pairs well with the cardamom sauce, but not the sun-dried rose-petal jam. Biswal does have a tendency to crowd his plates, but once he gets the recognition he deserves, maybe he will find the confidence to step back a bit.

These days, the residents of Margate know that they've got more to boast about than their combined bingo and tanning centre. They had donkey rides and deckchairs before anyone else, and their town earnt a unique position in British seaside history. Now they've got the Turner Contemporary – and the Ambrette. Wish you were here? Not just yet. But it won't be long.


Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

The Ambrette 44 King Street, Margate, Kent, tel: 01843 231 504 Lunch and dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. £47 for two, including drinks and service

Richard Johnson is founder of the British Street Food Awards (

Thursday 26 August 2010

Depressing minor amends on Dalby Square proposal

The following press release from TDC is just depressing. With all the work that is going on for a new future for Margate and Cliftonville. The best the developers can come up with is some mediocre designs for the strip of green space at the top of Dalby Square.


Minor amendments have been made to a planning application for the former Warren Court Hotel and the adjacent land in Dalby Square.

The application is for 12 three-bed houses and 8 two-bed flats, including the retention of the façades of 21-23 Arthur Road. The original application was submitted in late July by Town and Country Housing Group.

The amendments will see the roof shape changing on the proposed houses that front Dalby Road, while the balconies have also been removed from the houses fronting both Dalby and Arthur Road.

The revised drawings can be viewed on the council's website using UK Planning under reference number F/TH/10/0581. The plans can also be viewed by visiting Thanet's Gateway Plus in Cecil Street, Margate from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, with extended opening until 8pm on Thursdays. Thanet's Gateway Plus is also open from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

As a result of the submission of the amended plans, the deadline for comments on the application has now been extended to Saturday 4 September 2010.

The application is likely to be considered by the council's planning committee in September 2010.


Please someone with a vision propose something decent.

Saturday 7 August 2010

Margate seafront and empty properties to be 'tarted up'

The news that Margate's key seafront area and empty properties are to be tarted up has been hotly PR'd recently. Of course it's no news to those of living here that something really should be done with the seafront. But then Margate is much more than the seafront area and it's no surprise that many improvements to the area were supposed to be ready in time for Turner opening.

Margate tackles 'eyesores' for Turner gallery opening

Artist's impression of the Turner ContemporaryGallery director Victoria Pomeroy said the town needed to give visitors a "great experience"

Empty shops will be brought into use and "eyesore" buildings will be tackled for the opening of Margate's Turner gallery, Thanet council has said.

Councillors who were told the event next year was a "unique opportunity" for the Kent seaside town have agreed on a plan to spruce up the area.

The town's signage, lighting, seafront shelters, railway station forecourt, and Arcadian Hotel are to be improved.

Gallery director Victoria Pomeroy said it was vital Margate was prepared.

Start Quote

The first few months, when those new visitors are coming into the area, will be critical”

Councillor Roger Latchford

Thanet councillor Roger Latchford, cabinet spokesman for regeneration, said the opening of Turner Contemporary was a chance not only to attract new visitors but also to change people's perceptions of Margate.

He said: "The first few months, when those new visitors are coming into the area, will be critical. That's why we need to focus our attention on preparing Margate for that.

"A huge amount of regeneration work has already taken place in the town in recent years, but we know there are still some key sites that need tackling.

"The last thing we want is for those to have an impact on people's views of the town when they come to visit Turner Contemporary."

Word-of-mouth 'important'

A statement from the council said the plan would "identify the top 10 priority projects to work on for the next 12 months, which will focus on improving the area from the railway station up to Turner Contemporary".

It said the projects included "tackling eyesore buildings, such as the Arcadian and Fort Road Hotel, working with the owners of empty shops to develop innovative solutions to bring them back into use, along with tackling priority areas, such as the railway station forecourt".

Ms Pomeroy said the opening would bring thousands of people to the town.

She said: "Word-of-mouth is so important and we need these visitors to be leaving having had a great experience of the town and telling friends, family and colleagues about what is happening here."

Building work on the £17.4m art gallery started in November 2008.

Margate in the press

Today's Guardian has a weekend feature celebrating the great British seaside. Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate get a mention as having some of the country's best beaches:

"This is a rural bay in comparison with the nearby resorts of Margate and Broadstairs. By day, there's plenty to keep you occupied, with kite-boarding and windsurfing lessons, seal-watching boat trips and coastal walks. But at dusk, this blue flag beach comes into its own: the sun dips into the sea as, in the distance, 30 wind turbines shimmer in the briny haze."

"There are seven sandy bays to choose from in Broadstairs and, while most visitors head for the hustle and bustle of Viking Bay, those in the know sneak off to the blue flag beach at Stone Bay. A peaceful arc of sand cradled by chalky cliffs, this is a great place for kids to go rockpooling. Access is via one of two steep flights of steps (the beach is the setting for John Buchan's novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps), or along the promenade from Viking Bay."

A bustling blue flag bearer, Ramsgate is a good old-fashioned beach resort with lifeguards on patrol, a bay inspector and a ban on dogs in the summer months, which keeps families flocking here. The swanky Royal Harbour (a title bestowed on it by George IV in 1821) and marina (where you can get your fish and chips and ice-creams) is right next door and there are children's rides on the beach itself. Every Tuesday afternoon in August, the Ramsgate Society offers costumed walks of the nearby cliffs and harbour.

With a very nice piece bigging up the upcoming Burlesque on the Beach festival taking place at the wonderfully vintage Walpole Bay Hotel, Dippers and Dunkers and the vintage seaside film nights organised by Friends of The Shell Grotto:

"Margate is a riot of kitsch and somewhat saucy seaside shenanigans. From 16 to 21 August, the Walpole Bay hotel hosts Burlesque on the Beach – a series of vintage-inspired workshops and performances, with the emphasis on cream teas and tassels. The following week (20-27 August), there'll be 1950s-style keep fit classes on the beach (8am, Mon-Fri) as part of the Dippers and Dunkers Festival of New Variety. There will be burlesque workshops for adults, the Magnificent Insect Circus Museum and five performances of Sideshow Illusions featuring a headless lady. For something a little more sedate, the Walpole Bay is hosting two seaside-themed vintage film nights (16 September and 14 October) arranged by the Friends of the Shell Grotto, including Magical Margate (circa 1919) and The Belle of Kent (1958). Expect immaculate RP narration, usherettes and lashings of gin fizz and popcorn.;; "

Which leads me on to report my disappointment to hear from shop keepers in Margate Old Town that they were asked if they would like to fork out £75 to be included in a 'news feature' in The Thanet Gazette. Is there really no understanding of how real news works? Why should these hardworking shops that have stuck it out in a difficult market and are really the news story, why should they pay for an advertorial in a local rag? Please. Such a sad approach to media coverage. And lets face it, probably wouldn't do the shops much good anyway. The shops in the old town are something that we in Margate should be proud of and one hopes that what is left of a PR budget within the authority is spent on promoting these gems in our town.